Is Florida vs. Miami in Week Zero Establishing an New CFB Precedent?
When, in the ever expanding season for College Football is "Too Early"?
On the heels of this weeks announcement The University of Florida vs. University of Miami football game will be moved a week earlier from August 31 to August 24th, comes a boatload of questions.
The game was moved essentially at the behest of ESPN and Florida Citrus Sports who are putting on the game in Orlando and promoting it as THE Kickoff Weekend for College Football.
The move required the NCAA granting both schools a waiver to start practice earlier than the standard start date and allows both schools to get an extra bye week during the season.
Needless to say both the Gators and Hurricanes administrators were ecstatic as they'll get a big payday for playing at a neutral site and a chance to essentially have the opening weekend to themselves as the only other game on the schedule is Arizona at Hawaii a game that will go largely unseen in large parts of the country.
The move however raises questions. Lots of questions as the battle for the "First Game" of the season intensifies. The Florida/Miami game will be classified by most a "Week Zero" game as the regular season kicks off in full the following week with a full slate of games.
Each year though brings a slate of "Kickoff Classic" games at neutral sites with "Big Name" schools squaring off because of the payoff.
The past couple of seasons, those games have been played at Jerry World (a.k.a ATT Stadium) in the Dallas area and in Atlanta. Both locations will still be hosting neutral site games, but they'll be largely lost in the wash this year.
What is worrisome is this: What's to say someone else along an offers a pair of headline teams a chance to play earlier? It seems as long as ESPN backs it and there is a big payout, it likely will happen.
How early is "Too Early"? It's not an easy question to answer as most teams begin "Fall" practice at the beginning of August and get 3-4 weeks to prepare for kickoff.
Many teams struggle out of the gate and are sloppy, not fully ready to play their best games in the often 90+ degree heat of the summer. (A whole other issue)
Maybe I'm wrong and this will be a "One Off" kind of thing--but the precedent is there now. And yes, the NCAA traditionally allows Hawaii and anyone playing them the opportunity to start early, but until now, that's been largely the only exception.
I don't understand the need to start earlier than everyone else other than to be THE "Kickoff" to the season is a TV Ratings winner.
But then again, since ESPN essentially runs the game these days, should that really be a surprise??